Are you staring out the window, wondering…so what can we do THIS year for “Holiday 2020” without feeling like it’s all gone to s#*@?  Apparently, all the local stores are completely out of stock on decorations, Red Hots, and tinsel, so I think everyone’s going all-out on decorating their homes as festive as possible to compensate for the lockdowns.  While this post should be reminding you that you have until this Thursday 12/17 to order our holiday DIY Cookie Decorating Kits, pies, and cakes for next week’s pickups (oops, click this link that if that’s why you’re reading this), what I really prefer doing is reminiscing with you about holiday memories.

If you’re anything like me, you at least have some warm & wonderful memories or traditions from holidays of past.  I bet your kids, spouse, partner, and friends would love to know where you came from and how you celebrated?  What a great time to share stories together – maybe start writing some memoirs!

Even if you’re home alone this year, why not pick up the phone to share your holiday history with a friend or family member who may have shared the times with you, or others who would relish your stories and share their own? Or if you feel like sharing a story but don’t know who would care, please feel free to send me one of your fondest memories from holidays past! I love that stuff!!!

I’ll try to motivate you by sharing a vision from my WONDERFUL years of past, just because I LOVE sharing stories!

Christmas morning for me as a child meant waking up early and racing downstairs to stockings full of strange combinations of oranges, toothbrushes, and chocolate treats.  Once my parents woke up (ooooh, but the torture of having to wait for them!), Paul, Sue, & I were finally allowed to sit around our Christmas tree and take turns opening wrapped gifts.  No matter what they bought me, Mom always laughed because my favorite gift each year was a collection of chocolate-filled, colorful leaf cookies from the nearby Italian bakery (go figure, I’m still a cheap date).

Dad taught me how to build a proper fire in the fireplace and use those 12” long matches to get it started (invaluable lessons of life to start a fire!) I’d curl up on the rug in front of the heat and spoon with our big Doberman named Kaiser. I can still see the burning sparks & feel the fresh flames from everyone tossing wrapping paper into the fireplace next to me. What a heavenly feeling, all of it!  Maybe I should make this memory a meditation…??

Christmas afternoon brought over our Sicilian aunts, uncles, & cousins who drove out to our home in NJ from Queens, NY. They appreciated the city escape to our farm-like setting, and we LOVED having their energy and hilariously loud humor in the house. They’d enter the front door, dressed to the nines, yelling “Gioia!” a Sicilian nickname meaning “Jewel” that the ladies called one another…oh, how I still love to call friends “Bella Gioia” to this day!

Mom cooked most of the main courses (the BEST stuffed shells, lasagna, & roast leg of lamb…No, don’t be silly, certainly not one of our pets from our farm outside – you can’t eat pets with names!), and all of my aunts & grandma would fill in with side dishes & desserts.  Grandma, a German from Kansas who married into Grandpa’s Sicilian immigrant family, had learned over the years how to perfect a Sicilian Cannoli – the likes of which, IMO, have yet to be equaled by anyone in the US or even Italy!  We kids got to help Grandma to fill the cannoli shells and dip them into the chocolate chips – you can bet there was some shrapnel snacking in that process!

Thinking back as we approach this year’s Christmas week, I smile when I recall playing games with my crazy city cousins (as is typical of an Italian family, many of these “cousins” were actually 2nd + 3rd cousins who are truly some of my closest friends); Grandpa wearing his red, white, & green Italian-style Converse sneakers; and Great Uncle Charlie, the beautician with perpetually red hair, who suggested annually that he use Clairol #9 to make my mother “a beautiful blonde.”  This same Charlie, who at 83 stood a full 6” shorter than I was at 13 years old, gave me 2 options for my future career:  “Just be Miss America or a Brain Surgeon…”  Rightly so, as hard-working immigrants, they had high ambitions for us.  Well, here I am a cake designer – hardly wearing a tiara or surgical gown – but I think he’d be proud of my bakery and my continued love for all things Italian!  Wishing you all a VERY Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or whatever holiday you choose to celebrate.  I hope warmth, health, & love fill your homes this season and always!

SANTE!  Cin-Cin! Buon Natale, e Felice Anno Nuovo!